Around Tutbury

A short stroll tracing fortunes found and lost in this industrious little village.




2.75 miles (4.4kms)

88ft (27m)

About the walk

The village of Tutbury, just across the border from neighbouring Derbyshire, boasts a long history of making – and finding – money, and nowhere is this more obvious than at the picnic site near the start of the walk. In 1781, a five-storey mill was built here on the Mill Fleam, an artificial braid of the River Dove. Originally it was a cotton mill employing more than 300 workers, with two 14ft (4.3m) waterwheels powering an astonishing 7,000 spindles. Mill Farm, across the road, was originally a warehouse.

Production of plaster

After more than 100 years the cotton mill closed, but in 1890 Henry Newton acquired it for making plaster of Paris from gypsum, mined in the Fauld Hills 2 miles (3.2km) west of Tutbury. In its purest form, gypsum is known as alabaster and because it is relatively soft it is ideal for ornamental carving. Gypsum is also used for brewing pale ale, which accounts for the flourishing beer industry in Burton on Trent, 5 miles (8km) to the south. Production of plaster continued until 1968, when the mill was demolished, but British Gypsum still mines in the Fauld Hills, extracting some 650,000 tons of gypsum annually.

A remarkable find

Despite all this hard work and industry over the centuries, there were easier ways to find your fortune in Tutbury. In 1831, men excavating the river to improve the flow of water to the mill found several hundred medieval coins. The river was quarantined to prevent looting, and a major dig was conducted. Remarkably, more than 100,000 silver coins were recovered, some of which can still be seen at the Stoke city museum in Hanley. The question was, where had the cash come from? The answer lay in a battle fought and lost over 500 years before by Thomas, Duke of Lancaster and Lord of Tutbury Castle. Thomas sided with the Scots against his cousin Edward II in the early 1300s, so the King attacked the castle to teach him a lesson. Thomas lay in wait at Burton Bridge, but was outflanked and duly defeated by Edward in 1322. His fortune was smuggled out of the castle, but the horses floundered crossing the river. When it was found again in 1831, it was claimed by the Crown.

Hand-crafted crystal

These days Tutbury is known more for its fine Georgian crystal than its bloody medieval heritage. The first glassworks were founded at the height of the Industrial Revolution, and today there are two in the village, both with excellent factory shops. At Georgian Crystal, glass is crafted right there in the shop.

Walk directions

From the picnic site, head right at the roundabout into the town. Stay right at the first fork onto Monk Street and, after 150yds (137m), head right at Castle Court up a footpath to St Mary's Church. Pass the church and the castle entrance to reach the main road. Go right here and, at the top of a short hill, follow the footpath signs to the right.

Go down this footpath, veering half right onto the flood plain. In the far corner of the field go through the open gateway to the next and cross the stile a few paces away on the left. Head diagonally right to another obvious stile-footbridge-stile. Cut off the left corner of the field, aiming for the middle of the left-hand hedge. Cross the stile here and walk straight across the long meadow, heading for the left of some farmhouses in the distance. After 600yds (549m), at the meeting of two hedges, cross a double stile and continue with a hedge to your left. Cross another double stile at the end of this field and keep following the hedge to your left.

As you reach Boundary House, to your left, go right along the obvious concrete track back towards Fauld Cottage Farm. Head to the right of the farm gate, off the concrete, to a stile. Over the stile, head straight across the middle of the field to an obvious gate on the far side. After the gate, head straight towards the castle, back the way you came. At the far left corner of the meadow, very close to the river, cross the stile and skirt left around the bank beneath a line of trees. Cross Mill Fleam to the weir.

Now head sharp right into an open meadow. Follow the faint path along Mill Fleam back to the picnic site and the car park on the far side.

Additional information

Road and field track, many stiles

Town, farmland and riverside

Keep on lead at all times

OS Explorer 245 The National Forest

Tutbury Mill picnic site

At town car park in Tutbury

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About the area

Discover Derbyshire

The natural features of this central English county range from the modest heights of the Peak District National Park, where Kinder Scout stands at 2,088 ft (636 m), to the depths of its remarkable underground caverns, floodlit to reveal exquisite Blue John stone. Walkers and cyclists will enjoy the High Peak Trail which extends from the Derwent Valley to the limestone plateau near Buxton, and for many, the spectacular scenery is what draws them to the area.

The county is well endowed with stately homes – most notably Chatsworth, the palatial home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, with its outstanding collections of paintings, statuary and art. Other gems include the well preserved medieval Haddon Hall, the Elizabethan Hardwick Hall, and Kedleston Hall, whose entrance front has been described as the grandest Palladian façade in Britain.

The spa town of Matlock is the county’s administrative centre and other major towns of interest include Derby and the old coal mining town of Chesterfield, with its crooked spire. Around the villages of Derbyshire, look out for the ancient tradition of well dressing, the decorating of springs and wells – the precious sources of life-sustaining water – with pictures formed from flowers.

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